Lend Lease project manager Ric Burgess says the Citylabs development is the most challenging project he has ever faced in terms of scheduling.
The complex project involves retention of part of the existing former Royal Eye Hospital on Manchester’s Oxford Road as well as a seven-storey, new-build mixed-use building, linked to the existing building with walkways.
The building was first erected around 1840 and includes Grade II-listed features; it was also bombed in the Second World War.
There has been a complex building stabilisation programme during demolition, all in close proximity to accommodation for doctors and nurses, so the scale and difficulty of the job is clear to us before we even get on site.
Mr Burgess takes time to explain the engineering solutions implemented on the job to two artists who have joined the site visit, one of whom has joined the tour because it’s a site she passes on the bus each day and has attracted her interest.
His passion for the job is infectious, and he has props on hand to explain the new aluminium façade being put in place with what it described as a ‘DNA’ veil, and to describe the different engineering techniques used on site.
The second artist, now semi-retired, worked on a building site several decades previously, and is astounded by the cleanliness on site. He is interested to see health and safety measures – which, he says, weren’t exactly stringent in his time in the trade.
Laser scanners were used to monitor the building’s movement during demolition, while floors were effectively ‘tied’ to the walls to allow for greater load-bearing during construction.
Three existing wings of the former Royal Eye Hospital were demolished for the scheme, while scaffolding was erected to hold up a building being effectively sawed in half with the retention of the façade – a moment of particular stress for the project team.
Contractor Lend Lease
Project value £23m
Start date May 2012
Completion date June 2014